BSPID gum disease and diabetes guideline

Gum disease

Periodontal disease is the sixth most common disease in the world. It affects the tissues supporting the teeth, including the bone. The symptoms of the disease, which have an impact on quality of life, include receding, shrinking, and bleeding gums, loosening teeth, discomfort when chewing and, eventually, tooth loss.

Periodontal disease is caused by dental plaque, a coating of bacteria on the teeth, which continuously collects around the gum margin. Over half the UK population is affected by periodontal disease in varying degrees, and 10% suffer from the severe form, which is most likely to result in tooth loss.

Poorly managed blood glucose levels cause damage to the nerves, blood vessels, heart, kidneys, eyes, and feet. The gums can also be affected. Reduced oxygen and nutrient levels, which occur in the gums as a result of damage to the blood vessels, make infection of the gums and the bone supporting the teeth more likely.

Poorly controlled blood glucose leads to changes in the inflammatory processes in the gums, which may accelerate gum tissue damage and destruction. Evidence shows that severe periodontal disease can increase blood glucose levels both in people with diabetes and in those without the condition. There is some evidence to suggest that receiving treatment for gum disease can improve long-term blood glucose levels in people with poor control. This in turn lowers the risk of experiencing other common long-term complications of diabetes. In other words, periodontal disease and diabetes are linked in both directions.

Keeping blood glucose levels low and stable can reduce the risk of gum disease, and looking after oral health could help to improve long-term outcomes in people living with diabetes.

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